Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: 1973 (Page 1 of 8)

Death of Herbert Mullin

Mullin mugshots from 1973 and 2022

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP), August 19, 2022 — A California inmate who confessed to killing 13 people in a matter of months during the early 1970s has died of natural causes at age 75, state prison officials said Friday.

Herbert W. Mullin’s victims ranged in age from 4 to 73 and included a priest he killed in a confessional booth, according to the Santa Cruz County district attorney’s office.

Mullin died Thursday evening [August 18] at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton, corrections officials said, and the San Joaquin County medical examiner will determine his exact cause of death.

Mullin was serving two concurrent sentences of life with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder from Santa Cruz County and nine terms of five years to life for second-degree murder from Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.

All were for killings he committed during a four-month period in late 1972 and early 1973.

Prosecutors said Mullin committed two other murders for which he never faced charges.

Mullin was denied parole last year.

At the time, District Attorney Jeff Rosell said that Mullin again admitted to the 13 killings during his parole hearing. But he blamed his poor upbringing and said his parents and sister should be held responsible.

Mullin showed “no true remorse for these brutal murders,” Rosell argued.

Mullin had interactions with Edmund Kemper, another serial killer active in the same area and at the same time as he was. The two shared adjoining cells at one point at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.  Kemper would describe Mullin as having a “lot of pain inside, he had a lot of anguish inside, he had a lot of hate inside, and it was addressed to people he didn’t even know because he didn’t dare do anything to the people he knew.” In that same interview, Kemper called Mullin “a kindred spirit there” due to their similar past of being institutionalized. Kemper said he told Mullin “Herbie, I know what happened. Don’t give me that bullshit about earthquakes and don’t give me that crap about God was telling you. I says you couldn’t even be talking to me now if God was talking to you because of the pressure I’m putting on you right now, these little shocking insights into what you did, God would start talking to you right now if you were that kind of ill. Because I grew up with people like that.”

Sources: Santa Cruz Sentinel, by Associated Press, August 19, 2022 | Wikipedia for Herbert Mullin | 1991 Interview by Stéphane Bourgoin

Ed Kemper’s handwriting sample

After he was arrested in 1973 for the murder of eight women, Ed Kemper was asked by police to provide a handwriting sample by copying the note he left at his mother’s and her friend Sally Hallett’s murder scene. The document is signed by Kemper, detective Terry Medina and inspector with the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, Richard F. Verbrugge.

Source: Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021

Ed Kemper’s greatest contribution to society

Edward George, former administrator at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, recalled his many interactions with Ed Kemper:

“Big Ed and I used to chat occasionally about his life on the street. I discovered that he actually lived in Alameda in an apartment two blocks from where I lived. Scary. He worked at a gas station where I used to buy gas. Very scary. One day I asked him, tongue in cheek, what did he consider his greatest contribution to society. He didn’t miss a beat. With a gleeful smile, he cracked ‘I taught women not to hitchhike.’”

Source: Ed Kemper – Conversations with a killer, by Dary Matera, Sterling Publishing, 2021 / Photo: Pete Amos, Murder Capital of the World, by Emerson Murray, 2021

“We called him Guy.”

Ed Kemper’s younger sister, Allyn, explained in 1973 why he was nicknamed Guy by members of his family:

“We called him [Kemper] Guy. He had that nickname ever since he was little. He had this little sun suit that said “Little Guy” on it, and we just called him Guy ever since then.”

Source: Murder Capital of the World, by Emerson Murray, 2021 / Photo: Pete Amos

How would you diagnose yourself, Mr. Kemper?

As Ed Kemper celebrates his 73rd birthday today (he was born on December 18, 1948), we revisit his 1973 trial for the murder of six coeds, his mother and her best friend, during his cross examination by District Attorney Peter Chang, where Kemper reflected on his psychiatric diagnosis:

Peter Chang: How would you diagnose yourself, Mr. Kemper?

Ed Kemper: I believe very dearly and honestly there are two people inside of me and at times one of them takes over.

Peter Chang: You disagree with the court-appointed psychiatrist who diagnosed you as a sex maniac?

Ed Kemper: I don’t believe I am.

Peter Chang: Why do you tend to blame others for what you have done?

Ed Kemper: I feel there are others involved. I don’t believe I was born to be this way. 

Peter Chang: Do you think society thinks what you’ve done is grossly evil?

Ed Kemper: Right now, yes.

Peter Chang: Horrendous?

Ed Kemper: Yes, but there are times those things don’t even enter my mind.

Source photo and text: Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021 / Photo by Pete Amos

Who do you want to notify in case of emergency?

Ed Kemper’s booking record, April 28, 1973

“We got back to Santa Cruz, and we took him in to book him, and as we pull into the Sheriff’s Office, there must have been a hundred to two hundred members of the press waiting there. Keep in mind that I’m supposed to stay out of the press. So, we get around and go in the back and take him upstairs and book him.”

“Jesse Valdez was the booking officer. It gets to the point and Jesse said, “So who do you want to notify in case of emergency? Ed looked at me. He said, “Can I put you down because I don’t have anybody left?”

investigator Michael aluffi, in 2019-2020

Source: Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021

Kemper’s arsenal

April 1973 – Ray Belgard from the District Attorney’s office with the arsenal Kemper left Santa Cruz with, after killing his mother and her best friend. Kemper surrendered and was arrested in Pueblo, Colorado, where he could have done a lot of damage with these weapons. 

Source: Murder Capital of the World, by Emerson Murray, 2021, https://www.emersonmurray.com/murder-capital-of-the-world / Photo: Pete Amos

“It really sunk in that his dad didn’t want him…”

From a 1973 interview with Susan Swanson, Ed Kemper’s oldest sister, where she recalled his mood in 1964, after their father left him with his parents at their ranch in the mountains in North Fork, California:

“So, after that school year, while he was fifteen, he came home to Montana for summer vacations. I spent time with him, I was living back in Helena then, I was still married – in fact, I was three weeks away from having my third child. We spent a lot of time together. He seemed, oh, I don’t know, he was… He could have fun, he could laugh, he could play and be silly and visit and stuff like that, but deep down he seemed awfully hurt. Like you know, it really sunk in that his dad didn’t want him and this still intensified his love for his father. He just kept reaching and grabbing for him. So, we took him fishing and all kinds of things and then he went back down to Madera and it was just, oh, a matter of a couple of weeks later that he killed his grandparents.”

Source: Murder Capital of the World, by Emerson Murray, 2021 https://www.emersonmurray.com/murder-capital-of-the-world / Photo: Pete Amos

Ed Kemper’s last victim – Sally Hallett

Sara “Sally” Taylor Hallett was Ed Kemper’s last victim. She was Kemper’s mother’s best friend and a colleague of Clarnell’s at UCSC. Born on October 19, 1913 in Washington, Hallett had two sons, Edward and Christopher Hallett. Kemper murdered Hallett in his mother’s apartment on Easter weekend in 1973. She was 59 years old.

After killing and decapitating his mother, Clarnell Strandberg, early on the Saturday morning before Easter, Ed Kemper spent much of the day drinking. That evening, he telephoned his mother’s close friend, Sara Taylor Hallett, saying he wanted to surprise his mother and take her and Ms. Hallett to dinner that night.

Kemper prepared for Ms. Hallett’s murder by distributing weapons around the apartment but in the end, none of them would be necessary. Soon after the phone call, Ms. Hallett arrived: “I came up behind her and crooked my arm around her neck, like this,” Kemper said, bending his powerful arm in front of himself at chin level. “I squeezed and just lifted her off the floor. She just hung there and, for a moment, I didn’t realize she was dead … I had broken her neck and her head was just wobbling around with the bones of her neck disconnected in the skin sack of her neck.” 

Later that night, Kemper attempted to have intercourse with Ms. Hallett’s body.

He fled the next day in her car. 

Kemper said he had to kill a friend of his mother’s “as an excuse.” In other words, Kemper said he had to provide a reasonable story for friends of his mother’s to explain her absence. If she were away on a trip with a friend, Kemper reasoned, nobody would be concerned about her absence.

At his 2017 parole hearing, Kemper gave an alternate explanation as to why he murdered Sally Hallett. He said it was revenge for ruining his mother’s holiday. The two women were supposed to go to Europe together for four weeks, but Hallett backed out at the last minute. Clarnell went on the trip by herself. At some point, during the hearing, Kemper referred to Hallett as his mother’s “lover”, but: “When [my mother] got back, she tried sharing those vacation moments with Sally, and Sally got very loud with her and rude, and told her ‘I don’t want to hear about that. I didn’t even go on that vacation, why are you bringing this up?’ So, she – that cut off that release. So, here I am at the house having heard this from my mother and she’s frustrated and I said ‘I’d like to know, I’d like you to share with me.’ So, she went and got all of her travel logs and the papers and stuff from the places that she went and she started systematically sharing this stuff with me, and then all of a sudden, she stops and she looks at me in this strange way, and she said, ‘I’m not gonna let you pity me.’ And she just walked away from the whole thing. And I said, ‘Hey, I wanted to hear this stuff…’ 

“I had told myself that if my mother ever dies over this stuff that I did, [Hallett]’s going with her. That’s one trip she’s not gonna miss. She’s not gonna back off on that one… I swore an oath to it. I was angry at the time… I haven’t sworn many oaths in my life and everyone that I have sworn I followed through with.” 

Sources: “The Co-ed Killer” by Margaret Cheney, 1976 / “Gruesome Details on Tape at Trial”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 25th, 1973 / “Coed Sex Murders Detailed by Chang”, Register-Pajaronian, by Marj von Beroldingen, October 23rd, 1973 / Front Page Detective Magazine, by Marj von Beroldingen, March 1974 / Ed Kemper’s 2017 Parole hearing

“That seemed appropriate.”

There were moments, prior to her death, when Kemper felt like punishing his mother. Kemper told investigators he had killed his mother to spare her the suffering and shame that knowledge of his crimes would bring. He said: “There were times when she was bitching and yelling at me that I felt like retaliating and walking over to the telephone in her presence and calling the police, to say, ‘Hello, I’m the coed killer,’ just to lay it on her.”

Kemper’s testimony in court revealed his desire to punish his mother did not end with the fatal hammer blow. He cut off his mother’s head, “put it on a shelf and screamed at it for an hour … threw darts at it,” and ultimately, “smashed her face in,” he recalled for the horrified court. [Kemper supposedly performed irrumatio with his mother’s head, but that story is not verified.]

He went even further and cut her tongue out, as well as her larynx, and placed them in the garbage disposal. However, the garbage disposal could not break down the tough vocal cords and ejected the tissue back into the sink. Kemper found it rather ironic: “That seemed appropriate. As much as she’d bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years.” 

Sources: “I was the hunter and they were the victims”: Interview with Edmund Kemper, Front Page Detective, by Marj von Beroldingen, March 1974 / Serial Homicide – Book 1 by RJ Parker, 2016 / Intercorpse – Necrophilia: sexual attraction towards corpses including sexual intercourse, by RJ Parker, 2019

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